Voting begins in 2020 general election

Chad Frey
Early voting has begun in Harvey County, and more than 10% of registered voters have already cast a ballot.

Voting in the 2020 election has begun in Harvey County, and less than 24 hours after the early voting station opened, more than 10% of registered voters have already cast their ballots.

“We have been busy,” said county clerk Rick Piepho.

The early numbers have been fueled by two things: mail ballots and a busy day at the early voting station.

The county clerk’s office has mailed more than 7,700 ballots to vote by mail registrants. That represents more than 32% of registered voters in the county.

As of Oct. 22, 2,251 ballots have been returned. Of those, only 382 have been delivered to the clerk’s office by the postal service.

“We have received 2,251 ballots. Of those, 382 came in the mail. Otherwise they have been dropped in our office, the courthouse outside drop box or fire station,” Piepho said.

There has been a steady stream of voters dropping off their ballots at the clerk’s office in the courthouse, but the drop boxes have been popular as well. More than 200 ballots were placed in the outdoor courthouse drop box in a 24-hour time period on Sunday and Monday.

When early voting at the polling station opened in the courthouse community room on Tuesday, there was a line of voters out the door and down the hallway.

When the day was over, 418 voters had cast their ballots. In comparison, there were 48 voters on day one of early voting during the recent primary — and 243 on day one of the 2018 general election. In 2016, 343 people made use of the early voting station on Day 1.

“We have added an extra machine down there and an extra person to try and get them through a little quicker,” Peipho said. “It was pretty brisk. We got through them timely. There might be people that were here 20 to 30 minutes, There was a line in the hall most of the day. That lines looks a little bigger when they waited 20 to 30 minutes.”

Ballots received by the clerk’s office by Election Day — whether those be by mail, dropped off by voters or registered at the early polling station — will be the first counted on Election Day, Nov. 3.

“Our advance and early are always the first thing posted on election night,” Piepho said. “There will be some advance that are after Election Day. All the ones after are dropped at the polls or postmarked by Election Day and delivered in the mail by Friday will be counted.”

Vote totals will be certified by the county commission the following week during the traditional vote canvass.

Early voting will continue from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays until Oct. 30. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 31 and from 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 2. Mailed ballots can be returned by mail if postmarked by 7 p.m. Nov. 3, or returned through drop boxes by Nov. 2 at Newton Fire Station No. 3, 2500 S. Kansas, or the courthouse, 800 N. Main. Mail ballots can also be returned to polling stations on Election Day.

Election Day polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 3.